Book Review of Permaculture Design: A step by step guide

Over the years, many people have noted how there is a lot of overlap between Permaculture (the development of sustainable and self-sufficient agricultural ecosystems) and Holistic Management. The design principles for Permaculture are spelled out more explicitly than the principles of Holistic Management and for that reason, many people have turned to Permaculture to help them when they are using the holistic land planning process. Holistic Management’s forte is the integration of livestock on to farms and the financial planning process that helps people develop their land plans profitability. When you marry the two processes you get some pretty powerful results.

So it was with great interest that I read Permaculture Design by Aranya, a very knowledgeable Permaculture instructor. I immediately liked his approach as he noted in his preface that the focal point of this book was to help those who some basic understanding of Permaculture be able to actually integrate the principles and quickly develop some designs from templates and worksheets. As one review said, “This book is like having a teacher on hand all the time.”

As with so many processes, the key to success is a paradigm shift. If we look at both Holistic Management and Permaculture, one of those shifts is to slow down in our design and decision-making process. If we make good decisions and designs up front then we waste a lot less precious human, financial, and natural resources in the process of implementing our plans. By slowing down we can engage with the issue and think long-term as well as short-term to get the best results. This is not fight or flight thinking. Having a larger context like your holistic goal can help you take the long view and slow down.

As one would expect this book is beautifully designed with great color photographs and lots of graphics to explain concepts. Equally it is accessible and useful which is important to the more pragmatic, implementing reader. For those of you who are educators, there are also great exercises and materials to share. The “systems game” exercise is worth the price of the book alone.

If you want an easy checklist and how to’s for every step of the Permaculture design process as well as ideas of how to engage individuals and groups in the initial assessment, this is the book for you. If you’ve been considering combining Holistic Management with Permaculture, Permaculture Design is a good book to help you take the next step in that process.

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  1. Thanks Ann for your great review, I’m delighted that the book is being found useful outside the usual permaculture networks. HM has a lot to offer and we’re only just starting to see it being used here in the UK.

    • Glad to hear that Holistic Management is becoming known in the UK. I know Neil Dennis was over there this summer and Darren Doherty has been doing some work there as well. Great to see the linkages happening.

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